FM Broadcasting History - Various Articles

"Staticless" Radio Receives Relay Test

Armstrong Reports Perfect Tone in Five-Station Broadcast

This article appeared in the New York Times on Jan. 6, 1940.

Pointing the way to what he believes to be the future of radio broadcasting, Major Edwin H. Armstrong of Columbia University last night demonstrated his "staticless" system in a relay through five stations in five States, chiefly in New England. The program relay was effected through ultra-short waves, the characteristic of which is freedom from distortion, fading and interference. In previous relay tests three stations were employed.

The broadcast, based upon "radio frequency modulation," as Major Armstrong describes the system, originated at station W2XCR, Yonkers, N. Y., operated by C. R. Runyon, co-experimenter. From Yonkers the music and voices were flashed to W2XMN, Armstrong's key transmitter at Alpine, N. J., from the lofty aerial of which the program was relayed in turn to W1XPW, Meriden, Conn., W1XOJ, Paxton, Mass., and W1XOY at Mount Washington. The latter station broadcast by the ordinary method to a receiving outpost of the Yankee network at Winchester, Mass., which sent the program by telephone wire to the network's headquarters in Boston and relayed it by wire back to Yonkers.

"This test is most gratifying," said Major Armstrong. "Boston observers report the program went into that city with tonal quality never before heard, and the operators atop Mount Washington reported it as clear as if next door. The broadcast went from Yonkers to Mount Washington without using an inch of wire."

First F-M Network Broadcast

Yonkers Program Received in Boston Through Use of Four Experimental Transmitters

This article appeared in Broadcasting on Jan. 15, 1940.

Using four established experimental frequency modulation transmitters to form a wireless relay transmitter system, the first F-M "network" program was broadcast in Yonkers, N. Y., and received in Boston on Jan. 4. The F-M broadcast, using the Armstrong system, came 17 years to the day after the first network broadcast via telephone wires was carried between WEAF, New York, and WNAC, Boston, on Jan. 4, 1923. John Shepard 3d, president of Yankee Network, is closely identified with both ventures, as owner of WNAC and operator of W1XOJ, the Yankee Network F-M station.

The 60-minute broadcast, planned to present every type of talent usually heard on the air, originated in the living room studio in the home of C. R. Runyon in Yonkers, and was relayed by his F-M transmitter W2XAG to W2XMN, Maj. E. H. Armstrong's station at Alpine, N. J. From there the program was passed on and received by W1XPW, Meriden, Conn., operated by Franklin M. Doolittle.

The Meriden station relayed the signal to W1XOJ at Paxton, near Worcester, Mass., where it was transmitted on the ultra-high frequency channel throughout New England. W1XOV, the Yankee Network Weather Service station on Mt. Washington, also participated in the program, but not as a vital link, as it operates on the amplitude modulation system rather than F-M.

Commenting on the broadcast, received in Boston at a special press demonstration on a standard F-M receiver at Yankee Network headquarters, Henry M. Lane wrote in the Boston Sunday Post on Jan 7:

"The program itself was designed to subject the system to a severe test for quietness and fidelity. Selections by piano, guitar, violin and brass instruments singly and in combination, high grade transcriptions and special sound effects served to give the listener an amazing demonstration. The fact that the signal could be rebroadcast three times over a substantial distance without picking up the slightest trace of noise or static of any kind was striking enough."

"On top of this, the quality of reception in Boston with the nearest transmitter 45 miles away was fully up to a direct broadcast and showed no apparent loss of quality. Quite evidently, the process of re-broadcasting can be carried to a point far beyond that used in this initial test. The quality? You must hear it to understand how good it is. 'Natural' is the best descriptive word."

The following evening, Jan. 5, a similar demonstration was made for representatives of operators in the FM Broadcasters group. A program originating in the Runyon studios was relayed to Boston via the same F-M transmitters, where it was picked up by W1XOV, the Yankee Network Weather Service station, and then returned to Yonkers by wire lines.

Listeners in New England stated that the signal from Paxton, at the Yankee F-M transmitter W1XOJ, was superior to that of ordinary network broadcasts in quality, but that much of this advantage was lost when the broadcast method was switched to amplitude modulation at Mount Washington. Still further loss in the program was put on the wire lines, they stated.

The demonstration, directed by Mr. Runyon, was witnessed in his home by Paul deMars, Yankee Network chief engineer, and J. E. Brown, research director of Zenith Radio Corp. Results of the test were described as "most gratifying" by Maj. Armstrong. "Boston observers report the program went into that city with tonal quality never before heard, and the operators atop Mount Washington report it as clear as if next door," he commented.

The experiment carried a step further a previous F-M radio relay broadcast on Dec. 3, when a program originated at W2XAG, Yonkers, was rebroadcast by W2XMN, Alpine, and again by W1XPW, Meriden, for the benefit of a group of technical experts and newspapermen assembled at a F-M receiver in the studio of WDRC, Hartford [Broadcasting, Dec. 15].

New York to Hear Three 'Staticless' Broadcasters

This article appeared in the New York Times on March 3, 1940.

Introduction this month of W2XOR, New York, as WOR's "staticless" affiliate, will raise to three the number of frequency modulation stations in this area. Programs of the Mutual Broadcasting System will be relayed through the ultra-short-wave transmitter on a day-long schedule. The channel is 43,400 kilocycles.

A fourth "FM" station will be added, providing the Federal Communications Commission grants the application filed by WNEW, New York. The site proposed for the transmitter is Carteret, N. J.

At present the metropolitan area is being served by W2XMN on 42,800 and W2XQR on 43,400 kilocycles. The former, Major Edwin H. Armstrong's transmitter at Alpine, N. J., is on the air Mondays through Fridays from 4 to 11 p.m., with programs of the Columbia Broadcasting System. It is heard Sundays from 3 to 6 p.m. The second station, operated by WQXR, broadcasts daily from 5 to 10 p.m.

Worcester FM Ready

This article appeared in Broadcasting on June 15, 1940.

W1XTG, new FM station licensed to the Worcester Telegram-Gazette, will start operating June 17, according to an announcement by E. E. Hill, general manager of WTAG, also operated by the newspaper. With transmitting facilities in Holden, Mass., the new FM outlet, using REL equipment, will be on the air from 6:30 a.m. to midnight and will carry the same schedule as WTAG.

San Francisco Schools Seek FM in New Band

This article appeared in Broadcasting on June 15, 1940.

First of the educational groups to apply for FM facilities in the new band allocated for their use [Broadcasting, June 1, page 19] is the Board of Education of the San Francisco Unified School District, which has applied for a new non-commercial educational broadcast station to be operated with 1,000 watts on 42.1 mc. The application probably will be considered along with others seeking FM facilities, which under the Commission's recent Order No. 67 must be re-filed on new application forms soon to be made available.

While the educators have had ultra-high frequencies available to them for several years, even before FM was introduced, only a handful has sought the facilities. Licensed to date for operation with amplitude modulation are WBOE, of the Cleveland Board of Education, 500 watts on 41.5 mc., and WNYE, of the Board of Education of the City of New York, 500 watts on 41.1 mc. Last February the Commission also granted a construction permit to the University of Kentucky for a non-commercial AM educational station, to be known as WBKY, and to operate with 100 watts on 41.9 mc. It is presumed that these, along with all other future applicants, will change to FM in accordance with the Commission's assignments of the five 200 kc. FM bands for that purpose -- namely, 42.1, 42.3, 42.5, 42.7 and 42.9 mc.

NBC's FM Station Adopts Schedule

This article appeared in Broadcasting on June 15, 1940.

NBC's frequency modulation station, W2XWG, New York, is now operating on a regular schedule, from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays. Schedule was designed to coincide with the network's television schedule, as both the FM and the video transmitters are located in the Empire State Bldg. W2XWG operates with 1,000 watts on 42.6 mc. It was built under the supervision of Raymond F. Guy of NBC's engineering staff. W2XWG is using a temporary antenna for the present, pending the FCC allocation of television bands. If NBC is assigned to the new video band No. 1, 50-56 mc., it may be possible to use the video antenna for FM transmission as well, through addition of a filter. If NBC draws a video channel farther from 42.6 mc., however, a special permanent FM antenna will be built.

Station employs a Crosby-type modulator and uses circuits different from those employed by Maj. E. H. Armstrong, inventor of FM, in the transmitters constructed under his patents, it was said. It is operated, however, for reception by the wide-band FM receivers now on the market, with a deviation of up to 75 kc. either side of the center and a 25 kc. guard band at either end to allow for peaks. NBC engineers explained that the difference between wide and narrow band FM is a distinction of receiver construction, as an FM transmitter can easily be regulated to set the maximum deviation at any width desired.

'FM' Station On Air For 15 Hours Daily

W2XOR Is the First Full-Time Staticless Transmitter Here

This article appeared in the New York Times on Aug. 2, 1940.

Station W2XOR, New York's first full-time "FM" or staticless radio broadcaster, went on the air last night and was placed in continuous operation, for fifteen hours daily, to carry programs of WOR.

The transmitter is situated on the 42d floor of the 444 Madison Avenue Building and is of one kilowatt power. It is tuned in at the 43.4 megacycle mark. In a series of special engineering tests the past few days the new transmitter was found to deliver throughout the metroploitan area and for many miles beyond, virtually noise-free reception on "FM" sets, even during severe thunderstorms, it was said.

Major Edwin H. Armstrong, inventor, whose development work is primarily responsible for the "FM" system, pressed a button at the transmitter to start it operating. Thereafter the ceremonies included speeches by Alfred J. McCosker, president of WOR; John Poppele, chief engineer, and others, and music by a symphony orchestra.

At the WOR headquarters, 1440 Broadway, a special studio has been built in which to present programs of the highest tonal fidelity, ranging form only a few cycles to about 15,000 cycles, covering the musical range of a large pipe organ or symphony orchestra.

The programs of W2XOR already have been reported heard clearly at Riverhead, L. I., a distance of nearly seventy miles from Manhattan, despite the fact that the station is expected to serve only an area within forty to forty-five miles from the transmitter. Operating hours are 9 A. M. to midnight.

San Francisco Schools Granted New FM Outlet

This article appeared in Broadcasting on Sept. 1, 1940.

First educationally-owned FM station to be authorized by the FCC since promulgation of the new FM rules is that of the Board of Education of the San Francisco Unified School District, which on Aug. 15 was granted a construction permit for 1,000 watts on 42.1 mc. The board, it is reported, has allocated $9,000 for the station, and $42,000 more has been made available. It is planned to construct 13 studios in high schools and colleges of the area and to use the station for non-commercial educational work entirely.

At the same time, the Commission received an application from WBOE, of the Cleveland Board of Education, one of the few educational shortwave stations already in existence and operating with amplitude modulation, asking for AM operation with 500 watts and change over to AM [sic] with 1,000 watts on 42.5 mc.

Call-Letter Plan Is Proposed for FM

Frequency Is Identified; Permits Granted for 15 FM Outlets

This article appeared in Broadcasting on Nov. 15, 1940.

An ingenious call-letter combination for FM stations, by which their identity can easily be established by public and industry alike, has been proposed to the FCC by its engineering department. Deviating from the present method of four-letter combinations, FM stations would be identified with two-letter prefixes, a dash, and two numerals. A typical call would be WA-14. The plan awaits formal FCC approval.

In devising the new system, the department feels it has given actual meaning and significance to the call combinations. All W prefixed stations would be located east of the Mississippi and all K stations west. The second letter would be allotted arbitrarily and alphabetically. Then the numerals denote the frequency on which the particular station is assigned. The new combinations accord with international requirements and would be available in sufficient volume to accommodate thousands of stations.

The call letter proposal came a fortnight after the FCC had granted the first formal applications for commercial FM. It allotted permits to 15 FM applicants and held that more than 27 million people are embraced in the 110,000 square miles of potential service area of these stations. Some two-score pending applications for FM station will be considered promptly, it was stated, in the hope of having a good national representation for FM service by Jan. 1, when the service becomes fully commercial.

Meanwhile, FM licensees and aspirants were awaiting crystallization of policy of the major networks regarding use of regular programs for rebroadcast on FM outlets. The trend appears to be against the authorization.

CBS, first to disclose its position, has advised its stations that no network programs will be available for rebroadcast on FM stations. Paul Kesten, CBS vice-president, declared this ruling is subject to change. He pointed out, however, that "the many unknown factors in the FM outlook" made this temporary decision essential. Rebroadcast of network programs by FM stations also raises the "obvious question of whether, if an FM station carried one CBS network commercial program, it wouldn't have to carry them all in order to treat all advertisers alike," Mr. Kesten said. In advising stations of the ruling, CBS said that as of Dec. 18 its programs would not be available for FM rebroadcast.

William S. Hedges, NBC vice-president, said that no definite policy yet has been formulated. The network currently feeds its programs to W1XOJ, Yankee Network station at Paxton; W2XOY, G-E station at Schenectady, and W8XVB, Stromberg-Carlson station at Rochester.

MBS is continuing to feed its programs to member stations with FM facilities, but has notified them that the service is subject to change on 30 days' notice.

In granting applications, the FCC itself specified the coverage areas in virtually all instances, substituting its conclusions for those of the applicants. New applications, according to Chairman James Lawrence Fly, will be handled as expeditiously as possible.

Discussing FM Nov. 12, Mr. Fly said he looked sympathetically upon new groups and new blood in the medium, rather than a preponderance of existing AM station licensees. With more "independents" in the field, he said, competition will be healthier.

The first 15 applicants to be awarded FM grants, showing location,frequency, coverage in square miles and population, were as follows:

  1. Detroit, Evening News Assn. (WWJ), 44.5 mc.; 6,820 sq. mi.; 2,498,000 population.
  2. Los Angeles, Don Lee, 44.5 mc.; 6,944 sq. mi.; 2,600,000 population.
  3. Schenectady, Capitol Broadcasting Co. Inc., 44.7 mc.; 6,944 sq. mi.; 967,700 population.
  4. New York, Marcus Loew Booking Agency (WHN); 46.3 mc.; 8,500 sq. mi.; 12,000,000 population.
  5. New York, NBC; 45.1 mc.; 8,500 sq. mi.; 12,000,000 population.
  6. New York, W. G. H. Finch; 45.5 mc.; 8,500 sq. mi.; 12,000,000 population.
  7. Brooklyn, N. Y., Frequency Broadcasting Corp., 45.9 mc.; 8,500 sq. mi.; 12,000,000 population.
  8. Evansville, Ind., Evansville On the Air Inc. (WEOA-WGBF); 44.5 mc.; 8,397 sq. mi.; 465,000 population.
  9. Mt. Washington, N. H., Yankee Network; 43.9 mc.; 31,000 sq. mi.; 2,000,000 population.
  10. Binghamton, N. Y., Howitt-Wood Radio Co. (WNBF); 44.9 mc.; 6,500 sq. mi.; 256,300 population.
  11. Baton Rouge, La., Baton Rouge Broadcasting Co. (WJBO); 44.5 mc.; 8,100 sq. mi.; 361,400 population.
  12. Columbus, O., WBNS Inc.; 44.5 mc.; 12,400 sq. mi.; 1,100,000 population.
  13. Salt Lake City, Radio Service Corp. of Utah (KSL); 44.7 mc.; 623 sq. mi.; 194,000 population.
  14. Chicago, Zenith Radio Corp.; 45.1 mc.; 10,760 sq. mi.; 4,500,000 population.
  15. Milwaukee Journal Co. (WTMJ); 45.5 mc.; 8,540 sq. mi.; 1,522,000 population.

The FCC explained some 40 additional applications are awaiting early action, the result of its ruling last May in "paving the way for FM commercialization." It pointed out that under the regulations, FM stations are available to every community. Because they are not subject to the same interference as standard stations, FM outlets can operate on the same channel with less separation, but no assignments will be made to adjacent channels in the same areas. As many as a dozen or more FM stations using alternate channels may operate in a large metropolitan area, it was pointed out.

Explaining the allocation to Salt Lake City, the FCC said the service area is limited to considerably less than the basic trade area of the city. The topography of the area surrounding Salt Lake City, it explains, makes it technically impractical to serve a larger area which would include anything like all of the basic trade area. All other service areas in the allocations were made to conform "substantially with the basic trade area of the city in which the station is located." In the case of Los Angeles, there are certain technical limitations due to the topography and configuration of the trade area which have been taken into consideration, it was explained.

First FM Sponsor

This article appeared in Broadcasting on Dec. 15, 1940.

First commercial order placed on an FM station is claimed by WOR, Newark, whose sales manager, Eugene S. Thomas, announced Dec. 9 the signing of a contract for time signals through 1941 with Longine-Wittenauer Co., New York (watches). On Jan. 1 the commercial license of WOR's FM adjunct, W2XOR, becomes effective. The contract was signed at the W2XOR transmitter at 444 Madison Ave., New York, on Dec. 9. Present with Mr. Thomas were Theodore C. Streibert, WOR vice-president and general manager, and Fred Cartoun, sales vice-president of the watch company. The account was placed by Arthur S. Rosenburg Co., Longine agency. Robert I. Garver was the salesman. The amount involved was not announced.

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